The Two Towers (Part 2)

(OK, where was I?)

The Alliance of the Two Towers
One of the biggest problems in Fellowship was the characterisation of Saruman. Inthe novel Saruman appears to be working with Sauron, but is in fact playing a verydangerous game of betrayal in an attempt to get the Ring for himself. He’s running aroundtelling everyone what they want to hear while building his own army to take over theworld. He tells Th

The Two Towers (Part 1)

Well, it’s been a while between entries hasn’t it? There’s two reasons for this. The first is Christmas, which tends to mess things up fairly effectively, and the second is HEAT.

For the last week or so Perth has been stuck in one of the most appalling heatwaves I’ve ever experienced. A high pressure system stabilised in the bight, fixing a low pressure trough down the coast in such a way that it started wobbling irregularly back and forth and sucking down moist, warm air from the tropics. The end result of which was temperatures between 20 and 25 at night, and 35 to 40 during the day, all with sappingly high humidity. So, I haven’t been up to much except sitting in front of the TV and sweating, which is annoying because I’ve only got two weeks off work and I’ve gotthings to do!.

But anyway it’s over now, and we’ve got a nice break with temperatures in the mid twenties for a few days. Then it’ll start getting hot again, although hopefully less humid. Hopefully.

So, what did I get for Christmas? Let’s see…

1: A bunch of rather amusing books from Ali (although she says that they’re last year’s presents, and this year’s are still to come πŸ™‚ including The Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide – Travel, which has some truly delirious “emergency phrases” in the back in German, Spanish and Japanese (“Hello – I have been seriously injured” “Can I borrow a towel to soak up the blood?” “Why is the water brown/green/black?”).

2: A very entertaining V-CD from Helen, and a picture of Cliffords Tower in York, which we were talking about at one point.

3: An ornamental statue of King Arthur from Mum and Dad, which is nice if not terribly practical.

4: A copy of the Pixies’ Trompe Le Monde from Andrew, which rocks.

5: A garlic holder, a wallet and a few other sundries from various English relatives.

6: A large food hamper from Aunts Faye and Beverly who seem to be under the impression that since I moved out from home I have been completely unable to feed myself.

7: Probably a fair few things I’ve forgotten about.

So all in all a fairly good haul.

On Boxing Day (of course) I went off to see The Two Towers with Ryan, Fabian and Michael. Ryan had booked tickets for the first showing (at 10:00 am), which was pretty cool since it meant queuing outside the Galleria waiting for them to open up, then racing in like rabid lemmings to get a good seat. We even met a genuine Orc from the Helm’s Deep sequence, and since we had a spare ticket let him have it in exchange forlistening to his stories about the filming (he could have been lying, but he had authentic looking papers, and the stories were good).

So, what did I think of the movie? Frankly I was disappointed πŸ™

The Fellowship of the Ring was excellent. OK, there were numerous scenes left out for sake of brevity, some of the characterisations were way off, there were a number of plot alterations and several plot elements were skimmed over (some of which were amended in the special DVD edition), but on the whole it stuck to the novel pretty closely. The Two Towers on the other hand. Oy.

The movie is not Tolkien’s Two Towers. It has plenty of elements taken from the book, but ties them together into a very different plot. Given the remarkable effort at veracity in Fellowship I’d go so far as to call part two an outright betrayal πŸ™

So what’s so wrong? I’ll deal with the problems point by point.

(This entry was way too long, so I’ve cut it into two. I hope this works πŸ˜‰

Alisen Down Week – Apparently

Dreams can be very odd things. Particularly the waking up bit.

On Saturday night I dreamt that I was back at high school. My entire class was there, it was the beginning of a new school year and we were all sitting at long tables in the quadrangle, waiting for the previous year’s results to be handed out*. After a bit of preliminary faffing about the staff got their act together, and started walking up and down the tables handing out report cards. Eventually they got to mine.

I checked it over, and everything was fine, pretty much exactly the marks I expected. Until I got to the bottom of the list and saw my grade for English Lit. 8%!!

It was at this point that I remembered (with a sense of crashing doom) that 90% of our English Lit mark was assignment based. On the first day of term they’d handed us out two major essay assignments to be handed in at the 6 and 8 month mark, and I (in my usual sloppy fashion) had put them aside to look at “later”, and completely forgotten about them. The fact that the staff hadn’t mentioned them since didn’t help.

Looking around at my fellow English Lit students I could see that I wasn’t the only one in this predicament. About a dozen of my fellows scattered throughout the crowd were looking seriously startled. Just to my left, Alison Ranger (on who I actually had a big crush throughout year 12 which is no doubt why she made such a prominent guest appearance πŸ™‚ was looking particularly frantic. Just as we were all about to start noisily protesting, our Lit teacher (who was sort of a combination of Mrs Wolf and Mrs Beam, my Lit teachers from years 12 and 11 respectively) got up and started haranguing us.

First of all, she confided, she was very disappointed in us all. Fully half the class had failed to hand in our assignments, and she was tempted to fail us all. BUT, she had decided to be merciful, and was giving us all one month to get one or both of the assignments in. Which, if we valued our marks, we would.

Everyone let out a small sigh of relief. But by the same token no one was prepared to relax. The assignments were BIG. Like thesis big, and we only had one month to do them both. The sense of crushing doom was replaced with one of sickening tension, and it was clear glancing around that every single one of us was just itching to get up and tear into the library which was just across the quadrangle. But we had to wait until we were dismissed. So we just sat there, tapping our feet, grinding our teeth and sweating. Also (in my case) attempting to remember what the heck the assignments were actually about, never having seriously looked at them. I asked Alison, but before she could reply, I woke up.

Now, here’s the weird bit. I lay there in bed planning out what I was going to do. I knew that I could probably throw together a halfway decent assignment on JRR Tolkien, but before I could do that, I’d have to find out exactly what was required. I went over some possible angles, such as how his writing was affected by his time fighting in the trenches of World War One, or his dualistic and somewhat contradictory views on creativity. After a few minutes though the worry got too intense, and I woke up some more. Enough to realise (with an enormous sense of relief) that I graduated from high school nine years ago, and got an A for Lit.

So yeah, like I said, odd πŸ™‚

Anyway, in a remarkable change from the way my life has been running lately (rent inspections, major projects due with a week to do them in, a certain so called “designer” from a certain so called “design” company) the universe has decided to be uncannily nice to me this week. Not only is episode four of The Dead Zone on this week, the one featuring Alisen Down as a guest star, but starting this Saturday, new episodes of Mysterious Ways!

Time for the Myposian Dance of Joy!!

#Happy dance! Happy dance!#

OK, they’re not actually new episodes, there being no such thing (the series being axed and all), but it seems that Channel 10 (in their usual capricious fashion) messed around with the screening order and held a bunch back last year. So, one last season! Huzzah!!

I’m quite sure the majority of the ep’s will be pretty dodgy, they usually are, but so long as they feature Miranda, I don’t care!

I’m such a loser πŸ™‚

PS: Awesome show πŸ˜‰

* Not usual procedure, I should point out, at St Francis’s or indeed any reasonable school in the known universe

Bored bored bored

Prosecutor: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Who do you find more attractive. Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson?
Judge: What is the point of all this?
Prosecutor: Your Honor, I’m so confident of Marge Simpson’s guilt, that I can waste the court’s time rating the superhunks.
— The Simpsons

So, in a similar vein…

(According to ME)

1: Canadian actress Alisen Down
2: Supermodel turned indifferent actress Mila Jovovich
3: [This entry has been edited by the censor under the Purple Wyrm protection act of 1997]

(yes, there is a difference)
(Also according to ME)

1: Canadian actress Neve Campbell (is this a pattern or something?)
2: German born American actress Alison Mack
3: Australian actress Abi Tucker (even if she was in Heartbreak High)

You can tell I’m bored can’t you? πŸ™‚


Eclipses. Eclipses are on my mind because there was one yesterday.

Not a total eclipse. Not this far west. You had to be in Ceduna (in South Australia) to see that (and about 30,000 people were). But we still got about 65% coverage here in Perth. Happily it got darkest just after 5:00, when I was waiting at the bus stop for my ride home.

It was weird. It was still bright enough to see easily, but everything seemed a little dim and fuzzy. I kept thinking I had my sunglasses on and kept trying to take them off, which must have made me look like a real idiot *g*. I took the opportunity to take a couple of photos, but you can’t really tell there’s anything different to normal, so I’m not going to post them πŸ™‚

But as I was saying, I was thinking about eclipses. The last time there was one (1999 was it?) the path of totality was a lot closer, up in Greenough. Ryan, Justin and I planned to head up in the Justified, but were defeated when it broke down only ten minutes or so from Justin’s house. So we had to turn around and go back.

We watched the show through my telescope from Justin’s backyard (not actually through the telescope I should add, we’re not idiots – I rigged it up to project onto a screen). It was pretty funky. It was a particularly hot and bright day in the middle of summer, the kind of day when direct sunlight actually stings when it hits your skin*. But once the eclipse started the temperature dropped remarkably. Before long a cool breeze sprung up, and you could wander around in direct sunlight with no discomfort whatsoever. It got a lot darker than it did yesterday and, sure enough, all the birds stopped singing.

Despite all this entertainment there was one offputting thing. In fact it was one of the most bewilderingly stupid things I’ve ever experienced. It was Justin’s family. While we were outside watching the eclipse, they were inside, with the blinds drawn, watching the live broadcast from Greenough on the TV.

As totality aproached they got frantic. “Hurry UP!!” they were yelling “QUICK! You’re MISSING IT!!!“. We weren’t missing it. We were outside seeing the world get dark, feeling the cold wind rushing across the landscape, actually standing in the moon’s shadow. OK, we weren’t experiencing totality, but the TV footage was certain to be replayed that night on the news – what we were experiencing was real, and one time only. I seriously felt like shouting back “No! YOU’RE missing it!!”.

Truly, truly sad.

In lighter news I received two separate emails from the Chief Accountant of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation on Tuesday. They’re apparently wanting to transfer millions of US dollars through my bank account, and are prepared to pay me several million in thanks, but what is seriously surprising about all this is that there’s apparently two Chief Accountants of the NNPC. And they’re both Doctors! Doctor Bello Musa, and Doctor Idris Koma. Even stranger they both wrote exactly the same email! Word for word! If you ask me this is way too much of a coincidence and bears serious investigation πŸ˜‰

Also bearing serious investigation is the sign I saw at the supermarket the other day…


Well. What can you add to that? πŸ™‚

* Or is that just me? πŸ˜‰

My Busy Weekend

Well, it’s been a while since I last made an entry. This isn’t because anything particularly exciting has been going on in my life, I’ve just been busy with mundane matters such as work and washing up and watching far too much TV. Well I’m here now, writing while I listen to Bossanova by the Pixies (I’ve also been wasting money on more Pixies albums, just to continue the ‘w’ theme).

That said, I’ve actually had a fairly active few days. I’ll go backwards and start with today. Well actually I have to start with yesterday in order to explain today. Right, OK, yesterday my digital camera died. It died while I was trying to take a photograph of the Round House in Fremantle. Happily it was just that the battery ran out rather than anything going seriously wrong, but obviously I had to get another one. So I decided to go to the Dick Smith’s in town today (I could have stopped into town on the way home from Fremantle, but I didn’t have the necessary cash on me and my ATM card has decided to stop working).

So, I headed into town nice and early, arriving at the central train station at 10:00 am. It was not long afterwards, while walking past closed and locked-up shop after closed and locked-up shop, that I remembered that the stores in town don’t open until 12:00 on Sundays.

Say it with me folks… D’OH!!!

So, I had the choice of turning around and going home then returning after 12:00, or wandering around the city for two hours. Given that the trains run so infrequently on Sundays that by the time I got home I’d immediately have to turn around and come back, I decided to plumb for the second option. Luckily I had a Bill Bryson book with me, so I just sat around on a convenient bench in Forest Place and read, pausing now and then to watch pigeons washing themselves in the fountain and listen to German tourists repeatedly sing “Happy Birthday” to their friend Helga at the coffee bistro next to the escalators.

Eventually a bunch of rather aggressive looking street sweepers turned up and started walking along the benches towards me, sweeping under them as they came and flashing rather stern glares at my legs and backpack. I decided not to risk their wrath and instead went for a walk through the malls. A few discount bookstores were open, so I checked them out too, but didn’t find anything work buying (although I was tempted by a Whitley Striber/Art Bell collaboration predicting a gigantic snowstorm will engulf the northern hemisphere and kill everyone unfortunate enough to be in it’s path some time in the next few years).

After that I found a Sanity that was open, and had a look around on the off chance that they might have a copy of Rough Dreams. They didn’t, but they did have a copy of I Oughta Give You a Shot in the Head for Making Me Live in this Dump – which was of no personal use at all since I have a copy, but at least improved my opinion of them (which had been seriously eroded by the deafening tones of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Barenaked blasting out of the sound system loud enough to stun a small horse).

After all of this it was 12:00, so I headed down to Dick Smith’s and bought the battery with little trouble (once one of the staff deigned to acknowledge my existence, which required a fair bit of coughing and loud drumming of fingers on the counter).

So that was what I did today.

Yesterday I headed down to Fremantle to see the Spooked exhibition. My brother is the curator and it was originally set up in the old mill up at Greenough, now they’ve bought it down to the Moores Building. It’s got some great stuff by the way, including a giant locust with a human head made out of cardboard strips woven together like wickerwork. Go see it if you can (plug plug). Anyway after that I decided to have a wander around the city since it was a wonderful day and it’s probably been a good two years since I’ve been down there. I usually can’t stand the beach, but I was also in an oddly thalassophillic mood, which had started on the train journey down when I kept catching glimpses of the sun glinting off the deep blue sea between the hills in a remarkably charming manner (I also wanted to have a closer look at the new Maritime museum that looms over the port like a crashed alien spacecraft).

So I headed down to the Esplanade, which was full of people wandering around enjoying the sunshine. Children playing, couples coupling, elderly types asleep and slowly dehydrating in their wheelchairs – all that kind of thing. The picturesque tranquillity of the scene was only ruined by the deafening screeches of a flock of white cockatoos tearing into the pine cones on the trees. I took some photos of them in an attempt to make them shut up. It didn’t work.

I was feeling slightly peckish at this point so wandered across the rail lines to Fishing Boat Harbour. The fish and chip stores were packed full of noisy tourists, so in the end I settled for an ice cream and bottle of apple juice, which I consumed sitting on a limestone wall watching the sun glinting and sparkling off the waves at Bather’s Beach. Not even the incoherent shrieks of a drunk vagrant fighting off an imaginary giant lobster (or something I suppose he could have just been screeching because he was happy) at the other end of the beach could disturb my tranquillity.

That done I decided to head over to the Round House and have a look at the restored Whaler’s Tunnel, which was still undergoing repairs the last time I was in the area. I ascended the excitingly contoured and highly treacherous stairs at the south end of complex, once again reflecting what a gigantic eyesore the maritime museum is as it’s gigantic half-dome loomed up over the horizon like some kind of mutant fungus in a post-apocalyptic B-Movie.

On arrival at the top I was somewhat put out to find some kind of function going on under a large awning. As I got nearer it was clear that it was a wedding. Rather nicely they hadn’t closed off the complex for it or anything, apparently the happy couple were quite prepared to exchange vows surrounded by busloads of Japanese and German tourists, which was just as well because there were quite a few busloads there at the time. I skirted around the edge of the wedding party, and wandered out to the very tip of the promontory, where after a few minutes gazing out over the sea I was rather surprised to notice a historical plaque half concealed in the bushes on the other side of the wall. Apparently it commemorates the hundredth anniversary of the first methodist service held in the state or something, but why it should be perched out on the edge of a precipitous cliff is completely beyond me. Unless they held the service out there.

The wedding was now breaking up, so I went around to the front of the building to grab some photos. It was at this point, while a rather overweight woman was explaining what was going on to a bewildered looking ancient in a wheelchair very loudly (“BERNICE!! YOUR GRANDDAUGHTER!! BERNICE!! SHE GOT MARRIED!! BERNICE!!“) that the camera started flashing all sorts of red lights at me, then whired accusingly and shut itself down.

I wasn’t happy. Some fumbling around and poking at buttons didn’t seem to get a response, so I headed down to the whaler’s tunnel where it would presumably be dark. Exactly how I thought this would help is something I can’t quite explain. No doubt it’s a hang-over from using film cameras all my life.

The tunnel proved not to be particularly dark (they’ve installed lighting) and I was completely unable to get a response from the camera. I contended myself with wandering through and reading the historical plaques, including the one about the old jetty which has its bottom paragraph almost completely concealed by various bits of the old jetty that they’ve seen fit to pile in front of it. I emerged onto the beach just as an officious looking man came along and started closing the gates, which seemed odd since it was only about one in the afternoon. An American couple who’d just walked up from the opposite end of the beach and obviously wanted to go inside glared at him, but he just ignored them and slammed the gates shut in their faces. They then decided to glare at me instead, as if I was behind it all. They continued to glare at me as I read a historic plaque about whaling, as if by reading it I was making myself party to the entire global whaling industry of the last three centuries. Then they came over and stood next to me as they read it themselves (still shooting glares at me sideways out of their faces, which is harder that it sounds).

Unable to get back through the tunnel and wanting to get away from these freaks as quickly as possible I decided to check out a nice bit of lawn with some impressive limestone monoliths on it that I’d spotted from the promontory. This proved to be nothing but a nice bit of lawn with the said monoliths sticking out of it with nothing to explain their mysterious presence whatsoever. Even more mysterious was a rusted metal pyramid adorned with valves, vents and other strange mechanical elaborations at the other end of the lawn. I gave this obvious piece of Goa’uld technology a wide berth, and on a whim decided to go and have a look at the HMAS Ovens.

The Ovens is a decommissioned RAN submarine that the Federal Government donated to the state as a seed attraction for the maritime museum (it was superseded by the new Collins Class subs, which is odd because the Collins Class are generally agreed to be about as reliable as the Ford Edsel, and twice as noisy). It’s up on scaffolding outside the museum, and although you have to pay eight dollars to go inside you can wander up and gawk at it for free. Which I did. I would have taken photos if the camera was working. It’s pretty impressive really, a big black thing just sitting there. Submarines look deceptively small when in the water, only about the top quarter actually pokes up above the waves. You only really get an idea of the massive scale of them when you see them out of the water.

So, I Came, I Saw, I Gawked. Then I Left. With nothing else really to see, and a non-functional camera I decided to head for home. I did divert briefly to have a look at the STS Leeuwin which was in port, but there’s only so much you can say about a sail training ship full of people in red shirts being taught to sing “Sink the Bismark” while hauling ropes. I also cut through the E-Shed markets, but they weren’t anything to write home about. I walked back to the station and caught the first train home.

So that was Saturday.

On Friday I went to dinner with Dad over at my Aunts Faye and Beverly’s place. It wasn’t too bad all things considered, and after eating they produced for inspection a whole mess of old coins they’d brought as a job lot (this would seem like weird after dinner behavior only to anyone who doesn’t know Faye and Bev). There were some pretty impressive ones in there once we sorted them out, including a number of tiny British ones from the 1860’s (with a young Queen Victoria on them), and a black, iron, Deutchriech Pfennig from 1940 (complete with eagle grasping a swastika). The most amusing was from some central African republic. It was decorated with rather cartoony palm trees and weighed so little that you’d swear it was made out of plastic if it wasn’t for the fact it had started to rust. Any economy based on currency like that is surely heading for problems! πŸ™‚

Finally Thursday. Thursday was livened up by an incident on the train home where a tall lanky individual getting off at Perth stumbled into a perfectly innocuous passenger getting on. This lanky gentleman apparently took offense at the passenger so inconsiderately placing himself where he could be stumbled into and proceeded to hang in the doorway and hurl insults at him, including calling him a “m*****f****** Irish c****”, despite the fact that there was nothing demonstrably Irish about him. Getting bored with this, he then labeled him a “Gutless Hero”, and then, apparently incensed by the passenger’s attempts to ignore him, stormed down the carriage like a bull rhinoceros and started, if you’ll pardon my French, beating the living crap out of him.

A good number of passengers decided that discretion was the better part of valour and evacuated the carriage at high speed on witnessing this. One girl very impressively lept up onto a window sill, ran along the wall, lept over the combatants and flew out the door all like she was in The Matrix. A bunch of male passengers attempted to pacify the situation, but on finding their attempts to firmly pull the lanky gent off of his victim only resulted in him turning his fury upon them as well, threw any attempt at “sufficient force” out the window and hurled themselves on top of him as if they were playing rugby. They finally wrestled him down onto a seat, but not before one of them (an employee of the Kings Park Botanical Gardens according to his shirt) received a savage cut to his forehead. It took four of them to pin the aggressor down, and that with difficulty. At this point the passengers outside succeeded in getting the attention of a transit guard. He jogged across to the train, no doubt expecting something relatively innocuous such as a bunch of glue sniffers swearing at passengers (pretty much a daily occurance on Perth’s trains), but his eyes bugged out of his head in a most amusing manner when he actually saw what was going on. He grabbed his radio and shouted “Alpha one! Alpha one!” into it in a high pitched voice before barging in and trying to pull the four men off the lanky guy.

The true nature of the situation quickly became apparent, both from the explanations of the other passengers, the explanations of the men holding lanky-psycho-man down and the reaction of lanky-man himself. He was still wriggling around and making a number of detailed threats in a very loud voice about what he was going to do to various parts of his captors’ anatomies when they let him go. Interspersed with these he was also announcing his intention to sue each and every one of them for hurting his back and tearing his shirt, as if he expected a lawyer to immediately appear in a small puff of smoke.

A number of other transit guards soon arrived, and between them managed to transfer the idiot from the passengers to themselves without letting him get so much as an arm free. This was no easy task, his spirit was far from broken and he was still demonstrating a very admirable (if ultimately futile) determination to escape. They eventually got him out onto the platform, and pinned him to the ground while reading him his rights.

The scene in the carriage settled down. The passengers who’d evacuated filed back in, and the ones who’d intervened started assessing their injuries as the adrenaline wore off. A new passenger, who’d missed the whole incident, stepped on and asked “What’d he do?”, gesturing at the furiously struggling man being sat upon by three guards. Another answered “Started breathing mate, just started breathing” then caught sight of the Kings Park Botanical Gardens employee who was dabbing ineffectively at his head with a handkerchief while a stream of bright red dribbled down his face and all over his shirt. Quite impressively this joker immediately switched mental gears from left wing “stick it to the man!” mode to right wing “lock them all up!” mode and started muttering things like “too much coke, not enough brains”. Which was probably a fair assessment.

The guards came back in shortly afterwards and helped the bleeding man out, along with the others who’d taken part in the fracas. The train then departed, running a good five minutes late. The new passenger kept repeating “too much coke, not enough brains” to anyone who’d listen until I got out.

So, that’s been my week. Action, adventure, fights, electronic equipment failure, what more could one ask for? What indeed.

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